Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iraq: Let The Aftershocks Begin

A Saddam-less, American-less Iraq comes face to face with its status as an independent republic. Iraq stands divided, broken, weakened, impoverished, and scrambled as a nation. Yet, Iraqis remain proud as individuals. Each Iraqi wants the best for his or her country. Each of them defining patriotism from their point of view. Their ethnic differences and violent clashes have been waged as unwelcoming neighborhoods, strong political disagreements, planted explosive devices and suicide bombings. Their sectarian division has deepened and gotten bloodier over the past years. It is now impossible to have a conversation about Iraq without the words Shiite, Sunni and Kurd being an integral part of it. It is also impossible to discuss any future of Iraq without factoring in the priorities of countries such as Iran, Turkey, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Iraq needs to heal just like the entire Arab world needs to mend its wounds, get re-acquainted with its true identity and adjust to the present and its new realities. Iraqis were under the dictatorial and ruthless rule of Saddam Hussein for much too long to just move on and start rebuilding their lives without reconciling with the fact that he is gone, how he was removed and what happened to them during his fall and since. Many Iraqis blame the United States for destroying their country, breaking their families, awakening hatred in their hearts they didn’t even know they had and now leaving them to figure things out on their own.

Iraq never had any weapons of mass destruction as the Bush Administration claimed to justify the invasion in 2003. Worse, today Iraq has no weapons and no army or police ready to keep the country safe and secure. And, while in 2003 Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda or any Islamist fundamentalist group, today it is host to several terror franchises whose fingerprints are planted across the country.

I join my fellow Americans in welcoming our troops back home. I salute their service and bow to their sacrifice. Nearly 4500 service members lost their lives defending our freedom, because that’s what servicemen and servicewomen do -- selflessly -- without questioning orders. I mourn their loss and I feel the pain of their families who miss them dearly and will never forget them. I mourn equally the more than 100 thousand Iraqis who died as a result of western politics and selfish interests. Whether Iraqis are better off today than they were in 2003 or 1990 depends on whom you ask. One thing is certain: Iraqis do not have a unified answer to this question. One can only hope that history will be fair and give a clear answer in honor of those who died and all the others who were maimed or injured.

As the Middle East and North Africa regions go through an historic awakening with courageous civilians fighting for freedom and selfish tyrants shamelessly latching on to power, we stand as witnesses, our breath held, knowing very well that this coming period is a test for all. In the past year, the region has been going through dangerous and transformative fast-paced political implosions and uprisings, creating an instability no one has accounted for. Iraq’s challenge is different; it looks more like an explosion or an earthquake. Now that the U.S. military presence has ended, Iraqis must be careful, for the aftershocks might be even more perilous for their entire nation, even fatal!


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Winny Kazan said...

Very comprehensive article. Thank you Octavia. I am a fan of yours and will always be.
Winny Kazan

December 20, 2011 at 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Octavia,
Do you write these articles for the Nahar ?

February 1, 2012 at 2:22 AM  
Blogger Octavia Nasr said...

Any time you see the Annahar logo, it means the article appeared in the Lebanese newspaper in Arabic.

February 1, 2012 at 2:50 AM  

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